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Security Threats: Countermeasures

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A number of cross-Whitehall co-ordinating mechanisms exist to deal with the security threats identified in the Strategic Defence Review, many of which pre-date the review. Notably:

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United States' UN Dues

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they receive from the United States when they urge the United States to pay their arrears and future contributions to the United Nations promptly and in full.[HL2956]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We raise this question regularly with the US. The Administration, while assuring us that it wishes to solve the problem, points to political difficulties in the Congress. Many members of Congress blame the blockage on the Administration's unwillingness to accept the language on family planning in the relevant legislation.


The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they view the recent economic action of the Russian Federation against the Republic of Latvia and what action they propose to take to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Baltic Region.[HL2975]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The EU, including the UK, consider current measures implemented by various Russian organisations against Latvia to be unjustified. By adversely affecting trade between Latvia and Russia and by encouraging nationalist sentiment in Latvia, they harm the sizeable Russian-speaking minority in Latvia, whose interests they are supposed to promote. The EU has made clear to the Russian Government its wish for these measures to stop, and will continue to do so. More generally, Her Majesty's Government, through the EU and bilaterally, is working in a number of ways to reintegrate the Baltic States into mainstream European structures and to promote regional co-operation to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the Baltic region.

Turkey: Outstanding ECHR Fines

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What mechanisms exist to ensure that Turkey pays the £1.2 million in fines imposed on it by the European Court of Human Rights in 950 separate cases so far completed; and whether some, or any, of these fines have not been paid.[HL2980]

Baroness Symons of Verham Dean: According to statistics provided by the Council of Europe, 972 cases have been referred to the European Court of Human Rights since 1960 in respect of all states parties to the European Convention on Human Rights. Forty-four of these cases were brought against Turkey. The Court has found at least one violation and awarded just satisfaction in 18 of these 44 cases. Turkey has paid non-pecuniary damages, pecuniary damages or costs and expenses in nine of the 18 cases, and paid part of the award of just satisfaction in a further three cases. Payment is outstanding in six cases. In three of the six outstanding

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cases the time limit set by the Court for payment of just satisfaction has not yet expired.

Under the procedure set out in Article 32 of the Convention, the Committee of Ministers' Deputies has found at least one violation and awarded just satisfaction in a further seven cases against Turkey. Turkey has paid non-pecuniary damages and costs and expenses in six of the seven cases and payment is outstanding in one case.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they were aware, when they signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and became a depository power for it, that the United States intended to carry on simulating nuclear explosions with high-performance computers and that it had given an unwritten promise to Russia to provide it with high-performance computers to simulate nuclear explosions.[HL2984]

Baroness Symons of Verham Dean: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (of which the UN Secretary General is the Depositary) was signed by the previous government. When we ratified it, we were aware that the US intended to maintain the safety and reliability of their stockpile by means not prohibited by the treaty. Relations between the US and Russia are a matter for them.

Ottawa Convention

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is to be NATO's collective approach to anti-personnel landmines and to the Ottawa Convention that bans them.[HL2985]

Baroness Symons of Verham Dean: All NATO Allies have expressed their commitment to efforts to contribute to the objective of the elimination of anti-personnel landmines. Work is in hand to resolve issues of interoperability, command and control and logistics arising from the fact that not all Allies have yet signed the Convention.

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the United Kingdom will ratify the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines.[HL3256]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our instrument of ratification will be deposited with the UN Secretary General in New York today, thus fulfilling our pledge to be among the first 40 ratifications and helping to bring the Convention into force.

We have placed in the Libraries of the House the note accompanying the instrument of ratification, which sets out our understanding that the mere participation in the planning or execution of operations, exercises or other military activity by the United Kingdom's Armed Forces, or individual United Kingdom nationals,

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conducted in combination with armed forces of States not party to the Ottawa Convention which engage in activity prohibited under the Convention, is not, by itself, assistance encouragement or inducement for the purposes of Article 1, paragraph 1(c) of the Convention.

Sanctions: Humanitarian Exemptions

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the case of economic sanctions, governments imposing them are required by international law or custom to consider any consequent collateral casualties.[HL3027]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Security Council regularly provides for humanitarian exemptions when adopting a resolution imposing sanctions. The UK strongly supports this. Indeed the UK has taken the lead in drafting successive Oil for Food resolutions which provide for food, medicines and humanitarian supplies to reach the Iraqi people.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy: Annual Report

Lord Shepherd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Annual Report of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy will be available.[HL3255]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Copies of the Foundation's Annual Report for 1997-98 have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The foundation received £2,713,650 from the FCO, along with £139,099 from other sources, for its activities in 1997-98. With these funds it supported 256 new projects in 47 countries. It directed most of its funds to supporting democratic institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Anglophone Africa, and also supported worthwhile projects in other parts of the world. It makes a valuable contribution to the promotion of democracy overseas. Projects have included work with political parties, parliaments, the independent media, trades unions, human rights groups, women's groups and other non-governmental organisations involved in political development.

Ethiopia and Eritrea: Arms Shipments

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking in light of the recent press reports of the shipment of arms in both Ethiopia and Eritrea.[HL3257]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of reports of shipments of arms from China to Ethiopia, and from Bulgaria to Eritrea on a Ukrainian aircraft. We are seeking to establish whether these arms were ordered

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before or after the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea had broken out.

There are no arms embargoes against either Ethiopia or Eritrea. But we are nevertheless extremely concerned that both countries, two of the poorest in the world, should apparently be seeking to rearm themselves at a time when the OAU, supported by the United Nations and the EU, are engaged in mediation efforts to settle their dispute by peaceful means.

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